Justin Richins is one of NRA Outdoors’ quality hunting outfitters. He’s with R&K Hunting Co. I’ve hunted with Justin. He is a savvy Western hunter I respect, so I asked him for a few tips on killing public-land elk.
1. Don’t get call-crazy. Get high, glass and listen. On public land, elk will often be ping-ponging back and forth as they get bumped. When one answers, stalk in. Don’t keep calling—especially if the bull is calling on his own.
2. Hunt with a partner. If a bull responds, have a hunting partner stay back and call. Often when you move in, the public-land bulls know the deal. They’ll shut up when you break that 500-yard barrier. Get as close as you can and take a stand—especially if the bull is raking trees and calling. Let the bull move past you.
3. Satellite bulls will often be within a mile of a dominant bull and his harem. Those bulls are call-shy, but are following the herd looking for stray cows. Move in and cut off one.
4. If a bull keeps moving off with cows, stay behind him and cow-call or make immature bugles. The herd bull might eventually turn around and come in silently to see just what’s following him.
5. If the wind isn’t consistent, don’t move in close to a bull. Make note of the bull’s location and return when conditions are more in your favor.